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where to start?!?!?!?

GKmom23GKmom23 4 replies1 threadsRegistered User New Member
My D is a freshman (2023) in HS and has no clue about what she really wants in regards to college. She thinks pre med something but not really committed to any one future career. She attends a private HS in Northeast Ohio that has a lot of college support but I am unsure where to start with regards to even begin to develop an accurate list of colleges she is interested in. She is a soccer player and would like to play in college and has been getting a lot of generic emails and camp invites but she is all over with where she wants to go - right now first choice is Loyola Chicago (basically because she likes the city) and anything in southern California (we were there for soccer in early summer so again location) and she loves the pacific northwest - but we are in OHIO! She likes urban but loves the idealic look of new england universities. I asked her to put together a list of schools she is interested in and she came up with Loyola, Xavier, Occidental, Fordham, Drexel, DePaul, Dartmouth, William and Mary, Swarthmore, Pomona, Stony Brook, Ohio Weslyan, Temple, Kenyon, Hiram, Gonzaga, UC Berkley (and she added the OH schools because I requested that she have some instate options listed) This list seems all over the place and pretty far reaching (again we are in OHIO and I am a single mom who is a public school teacher!) and I don't even know where to start - I would love some advice on how to develop a sensible list and would like to plan a spring visit so she can get on a campus but do i just pick a location with a few schools or just select one that is at the top of her "list"?
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Replies to: where to start?!?!?!?

  • thumper1thumper1 74816 replies3279 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Well...I would suggest starting with your budget for college. What sorts of colleges can you afford? Will she need need based aid, or merit aid, or can you afford the full cost of attendance?

    I think it’s nice to start thinking about what your kid wants in a college. So...make a list of the things she thinks she wants now. Over the next couple of years, that list could very well change.

    Re: sports. Does she hope to be a recruited athlete and play on the college team, or would club soccer work for her.

    In terms of major, she can really major in anything to apply to medical school. But if she thinks this is a direction she might like, she needs to spend some quality time with some folks in the medical profession.

    As a 9th grader, she needs to get the best grades possible, and the best PSAT and SAT and ACT scores possible as this will open up more doors for her.
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  • helpingmom40helpingmom40 66 replies2 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    It seems obvious but you have to start somewhere.

    My D’s initial criteria was distance from home (she wanted to be close enough for us to come for a day and take her to lunch or Target) so the radius became about 4 hours. You might want to see her play soccer, if she ends up on a team. If you are a single parent, public school teacher, distance might be a place to start. If you might have a hard time paying for airfare for holidays, somewhere she can go without having to fly might be a starting point. If the cost isn’t an issue, maybe the distance of the school from an airport might be (I have seen discussions about some schools being an extra 3-4 hours from an airport where the student can fly to or from). You might have family in another part of the country that can offer assistance in the case of an emergency. Everyone is different.

    Our second step was to check out schools in our general area. We are in NY and have a large SUNY, small liberal arts college, and regional public colleges all within a half hour from home. D was able to check them all out on days off from school while classes were in session to get a feel for the campus, size, and student body. She was able to tell that a smaller, private college fit her vibe much better than the larger state school.

    Most importantly, you need to know how much you can afford to pay. You can use her list from your post and run the net price calculators. If the schools are too expensive, you might need to steer her towards state schools. Merit aid or athletic scholarships can be helpful but they aren’t available everywhere and injuries and academic issues happen.

    Those are some pretty basic parameters for just getting started. As your D gets more high school under her belt, you can start looking for schools where her academic achievements fit what a school is looking for, but it is early for that as a freshman.
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  • cellomom2cellomom2 676 replies8 threadsRegistered User Member
    At this point I think I would recommend focusing less on specific colleges she might want to attend and start to try to get a feel for what types of schools she is drawn to. Such as, large state school, small LAC, mid sized research Uni, rural, urban? For initial visits you could visit one of each type to get a feel for what she likes. Ohio is great for this, there are so many great schools. Just some ideas- tOSU, Case Western Reserve, Kenyon, Oberlin, Miami of Ohio, U of Dayton etc. You could do your first set of visits without even leaving Ohio! This might help your D get a feel for what she really likes in a college.
    And as Thumper suggests, before you really start focusing in on specific schools start thinking about budget and what you will be willing and able to pay, that will inform a lot of your search. Once you have a better idea of what type of school your D is looking for, major and budget you can zero in on specific schools.
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  • Erin's DadErin's Dad 33096 replies3783 threadsSuper Moderator Super Moderator
    I agree with prior posters.

    Let her look at big/small/urban/rural schools and see what she likes.

    See what your budget is and let her know that is the limit. For instance UC Berkeley will cost ~$66K/year for an out of state student. As a single parent, public school teacher I doubt you'll be able to pay that for 4 years.
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  • katliamomkatliamom 12812 replies167 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited September 16
    1. Give your daughter time to grow up a bit before pressing her about college. Her ideas about schools/majors are likely to change dramatically by the time she applies.

    2. It's not too early to look at your budget, figure out how much you have now, how much you're likely to have by the time she goes off, and what you'll need at your cheapest local school. Then look up the costs of your flagship university to see how feasible it is for you to send your daughter there. These can be your baseline measuring sticks as you start to plan a budget.

    3. Inform yourself about the realities of athletic recruitment, scholarships, need-based vs. merit-based financial aid, loans and tuition/tuition hikes.

    4. Be glad you found this site: lots of great, free advice. Good luck.
    edited September 16
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  • gpo613gpo613 334 replies21 threadsRegistered User Member
    I have a D19 who is in college now for 4 weeks. I also have a D23 who just started HS. The last thing on my mind is what college D23 will go to or want to go to.

    Over the first 3 years of HS D23 will basically decide for herself what college she will go to. This will happen in a few ways. During that time she will figure out what she might want to study in college and a lot will be based on what classes she chooses to take. Her ACT/SAT scores and GPA will determine what college she can get into. Lastly the money in the budget for her to go to college will be another factor.

    D23 was somewhat lucky because she went with us to visit some of the schools for D19. So she has an idea what colleges look like, etc.

    One last note D19 kept saying she wanted urban and in the end she definitely did not go to an urban school. So things can change quickly.
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  • mom2andmom2and 2873 replies19 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    As others have said, it is way too early to come up with a list. Or to even focus on college. Have her focus on HS and what she wants to accomplish there. I would suggest having a discussion about doing well in HS and getting good grades so she has a lot of options in April of 2023, but not push her to pick specific schools.

    The only aspect of college she needs to think about now is whether she wants to be a recruited athlete and if that is a realistic option. If (and only if) she is a highly ranked soccer player is she likely to get a look from D1 schools and playing D1 is a huge commitment. Otherwise, she probably has time to think about playing at a D3 school.

    Try to enjoy freshman year of HS. It is the year with the least amount of college stress.
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  • cinnamon1212cinnamon1212 443 replies6 threadsRegistered User Member
    edited September 17
    The OP is thinking about college in 9th grade because her daughter is hoping to be a recruited soccer player. Those kids are on a different (earlier) timeline.

    OP, search the Athletic Recruiting forum, for a start.

    I have a boy, but with the NCAA changes girls' recruiting is supposed to slow down and mirror the boys. After 9th grade he did some big ID camps just to get his feet wet. After 10th grade he did one day ID camps at schools he might be interested in, but schools that weren't too far away and were 2 urban and two rural. The urban ones were also big and the rural small. At these schools he took an extra day to do the tour/info session.

    This approach seems to be working for us. Besides exposing him to different campuses (hasn't really narrowed things, he likes them all) it has generated recruiting interest from 3 of the 4.

    Your club coach should be able to give you a projection of where your daughter will end up, soccer-wise. That should help start to narrow the vast pool of schools down.

    Are you hoping for an athletic scholarship? That's another layer of complication, that most boys don't have!
    edited September 17
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  • Techno13Techno13 192 replies8 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    My suggestion is two-fold: 1.) You should start to consider finances-- and learn everything you can about need-based and merit aid and see what you can and will be expected to contribute-- lots of good detailed info above and elsewhere on CC and 2.) Your D doesn't need a "list" yet. Just focus on challenging courses, grades, ECs, and SAT/ACT as early as late Sophomore year. She should consider following some different types/regions of schools on social media to get a feel for what appeals to her in terms of "fit". And maybe try some summer programs or career-exploration ECs to try and pin down academic interests a little, but this isn't necessary for all future schools/majors.

    I have Freshman twins (S23, D23). We won't start campus visits until Spring Sophomore year. But we do casually discuss colleges, interests, etc. just to get them thinking and motivated.

    Agree with gpo613, what they think they want as a Freshman can change drastically. It's too early to overthink it. D21 also was 100% focused on urban schools until she spent a summer at an urban school. She liked it but also found that she had very little time to get off campus due to the workload, so the campus and social fit became more important.
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  • Helen13Helen13 83 replies3 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    I disagree that HS freshman year is too early to consider colleges.

    The less money you have to work with, the earlier you have to look. I started looking when my oldest was in fifth grade, and good thing too. The Jack Kent Cooke Young Scholars program application date was fall in seventh grade and we needed to do a lot of work.

    Instate may offer tuition reduction programs; we looked there, but selective private schools were even cheaper.

    If you are looking to attend highly selective colleges through programs like Questbridge, LEDA, TASP, College Horizons, Gates Scholarship, start planning before high school because you will be applying your junior year.

    You need to have the grades, the extracurriculars, leadership, the rigor, the early test scores, the recommendations, the research, and the mentors to get a shot.

    Questbridge application is due in September of your senior year, the very earliest of early decisions. There are around 30 schools and you need to research in advance. Plus you need to educate your guidance counselor and teachers about the program, since many have not heard of it, nor have heard of the LAC college partners.

    For my family, first cut was financial, including avoiding loans. Second cut was academics, along with available majors. Size and geography had next to no impact on decisions.

    I spent much of my child's junior year running NPCs and calling financial aid offices.

    My oldest took the best school with the financial package that admitted her. She's happy with Amherst.

    Younger daughter is focusing on women's colleges first and foremost, but is the type to be happy in any situation.
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  • mackinawmackinaw 3019 replies53 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    @GKmom23. You're getting some good advice. Probably before you involve your daughter into the details of anything, you should educate yourself and sort out the issues. My kids made things "easy" for ME by declining to look at any college admissions guide, and even less did they want to think about financial issues.

    They weren't ready. Even when I got them into a bookstore to find some general guidebooks, or onto a website that discussed colleges (such as the old Princeton Review site), they didn't bite.

    So I took the lead.

    Eventually, with No. 1., I put together a list of colleges that he agreed were possibilities. But he was so tied up with his own hobbies and later his major EC's (high school debate) that he didn't do any independent research. He didn't want to make any college visits prior to being admitted, though he had been to many because of summer debate camps and debate tournaments. Of the 7 colleges he applied to he had visited 5 prior to submitting his applications. He never visited the college he ended up attending until he went to "admitted students day."

    Eventually with No. 2, I conducted the research to identify (mainly stand-alone) art colleges and programs. She totally ruled out instate universities. Eventually we made one grand 10-day tour in which we visited 11 colleges from the Midwest to the east coast.

    I hope your daughter becomes more engaged, but for now I think you should make sure YOU know the college scene including finances and the testing regime. Try some ideas out on your daughter after you're informed. Let her focus on her academic and extracurricular activities. Let her -- with your guidance -- become fully informed about the testing regime, including types of exams and scoring, as well as how important those scores may be to admission. In the case of my daughter, the standardized tests were secondary to the need to prepare a portfolio to submit with her art school applications. In the case of my son, at the suggestion of his school he had taken the SAT already in 8th grade as part of the national "talent search" program. He was a natural at tests like that. He never prepped for them.

    Good luck with this adventure!
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  • TS0104TS0104 890 replies26 threadsRegistered User Member
    I agree with the advice to check finances first, and then have your D think about some of the general characteristics next: Big/small/medium, urban/suburban rural, etc. There's super simple Forbes quiz that walks them through this in like 5 min.
    As for that first visit, I think something super simple and accessible is great to start. We are also OH residents and I took DS to John Carroll early on, probably sophomore year. He didn't even have a list, this visit just got his wheels turning a little bit, and gave him an idea of size and location, again got him to fine tune more the general characteristics he would be looking for. Could be a good starter for you since your DD has several Jesuit colleges on her list and it works with your location.
    Also agree that if soccer is a real possibility, that's going to shape her choices.
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  • MusakParentMusakParent 1004 replies9 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    I would enjoy these 14 year old musings but wouldn't take them too much to heart. If you have travels or some local campuses, you could do some low pressure tours. It was helpful to start looking a range - urban vs. rural. Large university vs. midsize vs. LAC. At this age, I'd just pick somewhere you actually want to visit and pick a few campuses in range. A very small percentage of college freshman that start premed end up in med school so I wouldn't get too stuck on that path either. My own college freshman changed his path multiple times through high school and anything could happen yet.

    I would focus more on your finances right now. Run some calculators and see what comes out. Money is the biggest factor and despite many school advertising very loudly how affordable they are, that isn't actually true for many families real world budgets.
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  • compmomcompmom 10763 replies76 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    I think it is too early to even mention college. Living the high school years with college admissions in mind can be destructive, I think. That doesn't mean that YOU shouldn't think about it, but let your daughter enjoy high school and following her interests for a few years.

    Ditto on career: she doesn't have to worry about that either. So many young people want medicine, but a good percentage never pursue it.

    Sounds like a lot of pressure for a young person. I understand the sports recruiting thing and know a few families who have gone to great lengths for that, centering the high school life around it. If that is what she enjoys, great, but maybe don't connect it to admissions yet.
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  • lvvcsflvvcsf 2325 replies58 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited September 19
    At this point I would be educating myself about a few things. First, what can you afford and how do you intend to pay for college. Now is not to early to be thinking and educating yourself about this. Your options are money saved, money from current earnings and money you are willing to borrow. The rest must be covered by her either from scholarships, financial aid and grants (federal and or school), money she earns or federal loans (these are her loans and limited). You can't control the scholarships and financial aid until she is ready to apply and gets accepted. You can control the money you can contribute.

    Second, I would educate myself about being a student athlete. What is the process and what do you need to do when.

    There are two other questions that will come up. First, what does she want to study. It's OK if she's not sure. She may find as she goes through HS she finds certain subjects more interesting and begins to look at fields that work to her academic strengths. She may come up with a very specific field, a general field (science, engineering , medicine, art etc.) or not be really sure at all (a lot of students fall into this category). She can attend career fairs, talk to people in a variety of disciplines and do her own research as she goes through her HS years.

    Second, is the college search. It's rare for a freshman to have a definite idea of what type of college or where they would like to attend. You can start by visiting different types of colleges, urban, rural, suburban, private, public, large, small etc. It won't matter where you go because you're not looking for the purpose of finding a specific university, merely exploring different types of universities. Luckily you have most of those types of schools within a hundred mile radius of where you live. You can discus things such a travel, distance etc. as she gets a better idea of her direction and what she likes. Once she gets a couple of years of HS under her belt and has grades and test scores to share you can come back here and get some advice concerning schools. Good luck.
    edited September 19
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  • mackinawmackinaw 3019 replies53 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    An early read on the type of college your child might want to attend can be very useful. It will help in planning of: a) which tests to take, b) which summer programs might be useful during high school, c) financial arrangements.

    a) My #1 was always going to take advanced tests. But never needed special courses or training. He was a very strong tester, without any prep beyond taking a practice test. My #2 was never going to take tests beyond the basic SAT I. She was aiming at art schools.

    b) My #1 was had busy summer already b/c he was a debater and attended debate camps. Beyond that, he didn't take special summer academic courses or training. Since #2 was always aiming at art colleges or art programs, a key element of her applications was a portfolio. Accordingly she spent two summers in pre-college programs at the Art Institute of Chicago, one focusing on 2D skills and another on 3D.

    c) My #1 had very high test scores and was a prospect for some merit-based awards or scholarships. My #2 had good but not high test scores, and her successful applications would lead to admissions but no merit scholarships.

    These are just illustrations of why you should think ahead. If there's any need for remedial work or special training it probably should occur in middle school and early high school years.
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  • NorthernMom61NorthernMom61 4179 replies30 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Seriously, get an idea of your budget. The rest will follow.
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  • mathmommathmom 32381 replies159 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited September 22
    Most 9th graders don't know what they want to be when they grow up or where they might want to go to college. And that is fine and normal. At this point I think there are only two things worth doing.

    One is for you to start to get a handle on how you are going to finance college. How much have you saved? Are there grandparent's willing to help? Is a sports scholarship a realistic possibility? (Remember even the best athletes can get injured at inopportune times.) Does your child regularly get straight A's and test well, so that merit money might be in the cards?

    The second is to make sure your child gets an education that doesn't close doors. She should take the most advanced courses that she can do well in. She should take English and Math every year, history 2 and preferably three years, a foreign language to at least Level 3 and at least a year of Biology, Chemistry and Physics. She should take at least one Art/Music/Dance/Theater course. She should try out several extra curricular activities as a freshman and consider focusing on one or two of them. (Though I had one kid who was involved in several in school ECs and did some stuff outside school too and did very well with college admissions. He did not have a time consuming sport however.)
    edited September 22
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